Connect with us
sam fleming transformation


Lifting Pain

Sara Fleming went from lifting regularly to being unable to bench an empty bar without pain. This is how she got her life back.


Height: 5’ 7
Before // Age: 45, Weight: 175
After // Age: 45, Weight: 158


I’d been coaching and competing in strength sports for 10 years. As a mom and a coach, I tend to overstretch myself and dedicate a lot of time to my athletes and my family. Unfortunately, these past two years, my own training had become mostly an afterthought. I competed and trained infrequently and did not address a lot of the nagging injuries and strength imbalances I was developing as a result. I went from lifting regularly, training for a half marathon, and competing in the Highland Games to being unable to bench an empty bar without pain or even do a pull-up. Walking up or down stairs was impossible without severe knee pain. And after four months of inactivity, I gained 20lbs.


One sobering day after the New Year, I stood in front of a mirror in just my underwear and took a long hard look. I did not like what I saw – I looked old and broken. It was clear I wasn’t healthy and everything hurt.


As a powerlifting coach, I know bodybuilding is one of the best rehab activities you can give a strength athlete who is feeling the abuse of their practice. Likewise, I knew I had to lose a good bit of body fat. When I combined those two things, the answer to my problem became easy. And I knew that in order to be successful, I needed to hire a good figure coach for both direction and accountability.


One thing I know about myself is that I am always more committed when working towards a competition goal. Although I’d never seen myself as a figure competitor, I knew it was the kind of challenge that would motivate me. One of the best ways to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it. And a lot of people told me that up front when I shared my plan. So, I dug in hard and started to prepare for my success.


1. I cut back my coaching schedule and many of the extraneous activities I was involved in. Saying “no” is something us moms don’t often do, but it’s so empowering when you do it.

2. I prep-cooked a lot of protein at the beginning of each week and made sure my refrigerator was always stocked with low-fat protein and carb sources as well as easy-to-prepare fruits and vegetables.

3. I researched the fast food and chain restaurants I visit and made a list of items I could order that would fit the needs of my diet.


Meal 1: 1 slice Pepperidge Farm hearty white bread, 3.5oz sliced chicken breast, 1 egg, 1 tomato, 16oz cup Fairlife skim milk, 1 cup grape

Meal 2: Chick-fil-A 12 piece grilled chicken nuggets, Chick-fil-A superfood side

Meal 3: Smoothie: 2 cups Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 cup water, 1 stevia, pureed

Meal 4: 6oz chicken breast, 1 cup rice, 2 cups green beans roasted with olive oil and salt

Meal 5: 16oz skim milk

Continue Reading
You may also like...

More in Transform

To Top